Extending SCons: The Short Way

SCons is for me one of the most convenient build systems out there but at least if you take a look at the manual and esp. in the section about writing your own builders, it looks like a little bit of a pain to extend. Or actually there doesn’t seem to be a short way to extend build environments at all.


Today, for example, I was looking for a way to convert RST documents into HTML using SCons and therefor wanted to write and integrate a simple builder that does this job. According to the manual this would work somehow like this (the rstsuite package being one of my toolkit packages):

import os
from rstsuite.scons import build_document

env = Environment(ENV=os.environ)
env['BUILDERS']['RSTDocument'] = Builder(action=build_document, 
    suffix='.html', src_suffix='.txt')
env.RSTDocument(source='index.txt', target='index.html')

For this task, the build_document function would be quite short:

def build_document(target, source, env):
    from docutils.core import publish_file
    assert(len(source)==1)
    assert(len(target)==1)
    publish_file(source_path=str(source[0]),
        destination_path=str(target[0]), 
        writer_name='html')
    return None

But I’m quite sure, that line 5 of the SConstruct file would eventually get on my nerves if I had to write it ever single time I had a SConstruct file that should build some RST document. So I started looking through SCons’ source files in the hope to find some kind of dict or list that would let me set that builder once and for all. That Defaults.py file really looked suspicious and I really seem to have been lucky once again: It holds a dict for the default environment called “ConstructionEnvironment” that appears to be what I was looking for.

Now I could compress my SConstruct file to this one:

import rstsuite.scons
env=Environment()
env.RSTDocument(source="index.txt", target="index.html")

with the rstsuite.scons module looking like this:

from SCons.Defaults import ConstructionEnvironment
from SCons.Builder import Builder

def build_document(target, source, env):
    from docutils.core import publish_file
    assert(len(source)==1 and len(target)==1)
    publish_file(source_path=str(source[0]), 
        destination_path=str(target[0]), 
        writer_name='html')
    return None

ConstructionEnvironment['BUILDERS']['RSTDocument'] = Builder(
    action=build_document,
    suffix='.html', 
    src_suffix='.txt')

If anyone knows of a better solution for extending the default environment, please let me know :-) For now at least, this solution seems to work, though.

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